My boyfriend had been telling me for years that he wanted to show me around his home country, Hong Kong (and Indonesia), early on in our relationship.
And I thought that would be a great idea – being guided by a local.
That way, you can see the city-state from a different lens than as a regular tourist.
Unfortunately, the pandemic hit, and the city-state was closed off from the world.
Following its neighbor up north, it imposed a strict zero-COVID policy, so we had to postpone our plans for a while.
Until the country announced it would reopen (without quarantine requirements) in December 2022.
So in January 2023, we went to Hong Kong and stayed for two weeks.
And my boyfriend, and many repeat Phone Travel Wiz readers, know that I do not go to a country without testing its SIM cards and various travel eSIMs before I recommend them.
So I tested out eight travel eSIMs, including the Best Asia Plan with the Ubigi eSIM, four Hong Kong SIM cards & one travel SIM card to be used here.
This resulted in me spending about 2560 HKD (≈ 326.15 USD) for my Hong Kong SIM card and travel eSIM review series – yeah… I went all out for you 😎.
In many countries, getting a local SIM card will be the most cost-effective way to stay connected.
But in the same countries, getting a travel eSIM will be much more convenient because you do not have to deal with SIM card registration requirements (which can be stringent).
As of March 2022, SIM card registration rules came into effect in Hong Kong after avoiding it for many years, making the country the final East Asian country to do so.
So, is the Best Asia plan with the Ubigi eSIM a good option? Is it cheap compared to the local options and its travel eSIM competitors? How is its reception? And is it fast?
I will answer all those questions in this review. Let's do this.
Original publication: 13th of February 2023. Last updated: 19th of September 2023.
Table of Contents
Which Phones are Compatible with Ubigi eSIMs?
Before discussing the Ubigi eSIM, you must know whether your phone can even support Ubigi's eSIMs.
Unlike most travel eSIM providers, Ubigi claims that every eSIM-compatible phone can use its eSIMs.
So that makes things easy 😎.
As of August 2023, the phones shown in the infographic below are compatible with Ubigi eSIMs:
With that out of the way, let's talk more about the Ubigi Asia plans!
How Much Do Ubigi (Best) Asia Plans Cost?
You can get the Ubigi (Best) Asia Plans to be used in Hong Kong for as little as 6 USD for 500 MB (1 day) up to 49 USD for 10 GB (30 days).
Note: once you have installed your Ubigi eSIM profile, you do not have to install another one in case you visit a different country (unlike most of its competitors, where you would have to install an eSIM per country, which is convenient!
But you actually have two Asia plans that can be used in Hong Kong: Asia & Best Asia.
What is the difference between the two plans?
The Asia plan can be used in 24 Asian countries (up to 1 GB (12 USD) unless you buy a recurring plan, then up to 5 GB (29 USD/month)).
Whereas Best Asia can be used in 12 East- and Southeast Asian countries only (up to 10 GB (49 USD)).
I will list the country breakdown in the next section, but I do want to give you a price breakdown first:
- Asia (24 countries) 500 MB for 1 day, costing 6 USD/6 EUR/5 GBP
- Asia (24 countries) 1 GB for 30 days, costing 12 USD/12 EUR/10 GBP
- Best Asia (12 countries) 3 GB for 30 days, costing 24 USD/24 EUR/21 GBP
- Best Asia (12 countries) 10 GB for 30 days, costing 49 USD/49 EUR/45 GBP
Clicking these links will get you to a page to generate a QR code to create an account (on mobile). You cannot buy any Ubigi plan on the front end (only on the back end), although I was promised you could in May 2023 (but it is June 2023 at the time of writing).
If your credit/debit card charges you foreign exchange fees, get yourself a Wise Borderless Account and Debit Card.
Their fees are MUCH lower than banks and credit card companies charge you (and Wise is transparent about their fees, unlike banks).
I have saved literal THOUSANDS of Australian Dollars and Euros, my main currencies, when using Wise abroad when traveling compared to my debit and credit cards.
If you wonder why I am highlighting the Asia region plans instead of the Hong Kong-specific plans, it is because they do not exist.
Yeah… I do not know why either.
But if you only want to visit Hong Kong and want to use a Ubigi plan, you have to get one of the Asia plans.
This seems to be an issue with non-Western countries (those do have country-specific plans), so you would get a better deal there than in Asia and Hong Kong, for example.
Anyway, do know that Ubigi has long-term plans for its Asia eSIMs, giving you data for a year.
Yes, really – you can get the Best Asia annual plan for 78 USD, giving you 2 GB a month for 12 months (24 GB in total).
And you will pay this in advance at the time of purchase, so not 6.50 USD/2 GB/month.
Or plans that renew monthly, like the Best Asia 5 GB a month plan for 29 USD.
But there is a reason I did not mention the recurring plan yet.
That is because you need to stay on it for at least three months, meaning you spend at least 87 USD for the Best Asia plan.
It is not that Ubigi hides this fact – it is clearly mentioned on the purchase page (on the app).
But I mention this in case you thought you found a good deal in case you think 3 GB is too little, and 10 GB is too much (or too pricey).
In Which Countries Can the Ubigi (Best) Asia Plans Be Used?
The Ubigi Asia plans can be used in
12 14 East- and Southeast Asian countries (Best Asia plans) or 24 countries throughout Asia , including parts of the Middle East (Asia plans).
Previously, Iran was covered by the Asia Plan (considered to be part of the Middle East). But it is not included anymore. Hence the sentence above was struck through.
Below is a complete overview of countries the Ubigi Best Asia plans work in:
- Hong Kong
- Japan 1
- Singapore 1
- South Korea 1
- Taiwan 1 (new)
- Tajikistan (new)
- Vietnam 1
1 with 5G NR access (in Vietnam, select the Viettel network instead of the Vinaphone (VNPT) network for 5G NR access)
Below is a complete overview of countries the Ubigi Asia plans work in:
- Hong Kong
- Mongolia 1
- Japan 2
- South Korea 2
- Sri Lanka
- Taiwan 2
- Tajikistan (new)
- Vietnam 2
1 on 3G only
2 with 5G NR access (in Singapore, select StarHub instead of Simba Singapore for 5G NR access. For Vietnam, select the Viettel instead of Vinaphone (VNPT))
So yeah, both Asia and Best Asia plans work in Hong Kong.
If you are mainly staying in multiple popular East- and Southeast Asia countries, the Best Asia plans will be more convenient for you.
If you visit not-as-popular countries, the Asia plans will be better.
For 5G NR access in Vietnam, I mentioned that you should manually select the Viettel network if your phone does not automatically does so.
Ubigi should automatically switch to the network with the best reception if it has multiple network partners.
3 Hong Kong is trash, so I tried manually switching to the SmarTone Hong Kong network, but my phone did not allow me.
I could only select the Ubigi network and not the SmarTone Hong Kong network when turning Automatically select network off (my phone would tell me I was not allowed to select any other network besides Ubigi).
You may experience the same issue… here is your heads up 😏.
My Ubigi eSIM in Hong Kong Experience
I used my Ubigi eSIM with the Best Asia plan in Hong Kong Island, Kowloon & New Territories.
As Hong Kong does not really have cities (in the sense of the Government of Hong Kong not using them for administrative purposes and only as geographical limits), I could not visit multiple ones.
Before we continue, I do want to let you know how travel eSIM providers like Ubigi work.
It is impossible for Ubigi, or any other mobile operator, to operate in every country (and do not trust any company saying otherwise), so they set up roaming agreements.
What Ubigi does, and basically all (actual) mobile operators do, is partner up with a local mobile operator so that their customers can still stay connected abroad.
In the case of the Ubigi Best Asia plans, it uses the networks of more than 16 local mobile operators.
That is because the Best Asia plan uses the networks of two mobile operators in some countries instead of just one (it is not because I forgot the plan works in 12 countries only, lol).
Some of these networks are good, but some of them suck.
Like 3 Hong Kong – it sucks, as I mentioned in the previous section.
In terms of speed, 3 Hong Kong has the worst download speed, with a median download speed of 32.52 Mbps, behind CSL Mobile (45.96 Mbps), SmarTone Hong Kong (48.14 Mbps) & China Mobile Hong Kong (66.11 Mbps).
What is worse is that you often have a not-up-to-par performance on their network.
That is because you are roaming on the local networks instead of being a native customer.
But that does not mean you will have (incredibly) slow speeds – just slower than native customers.
I cannot give an average percentage because it really depends on the roaming agreement Ubigi has made.
Okay, that is enough background information – let's compare the Ubigi eSIM to 3 Hong Kong in Hong Kong Island, Kowloon & New Territories.
Ubigi Best Asia Plan in Hong Kong Experieces + Speed Test Results
Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated countries, or Special Administrative Region (SAR) if we want to be correct, worldwide behind Macau (also a SAR), Monaco & Singapore.
There are not many countries where you struggle to walk on the pavement because there are so many people around as Hong Kong without getting constantly pushed.
And I was there during the winter and when the China-Hong Kong border just opened – imagine how crazy it is during summer 😳.
But the country has a lot to offer: fantastic food, Ocean Park (attraction park) & even Disneyland for those who want it.
And of course smaller attractions, such as the Central–Mid-Levels escalator – the longest outdoor covered escalator in the world, The Peak (with the peak tram) & the Big Buddha (Ngong Ping) cable car.
The latter is 5.7 kilometers long and takes 25 minutes – and you even have a clear (called crystal) car option if you dare.
I am not fond of heights… but I actually enjoyed being in the crystal car… so I bet you will too!
Anyway, let's finally talk about my Ubigi Hong Kong speed test results, right?
Poor speeds with the Ubigi Best Asia plan in Hong Kong.
But… how is an average and median download speed of around 24 Mbps poor?
I compare the median download speed of a local SIM card or travel eSIM with the global median download speed of the month.
I consider the speeds poor if it is slower by more than 10 Mbps than the global median.
Yes, I have strict requirements over here 😤.
The global median was 36.74 Mbps in December 2022, as per the Speedtest Global Index, so the Ubigi eSIM was slower by a bit more than 10 Mbps.
I told you earlier that I care about speeds a lot 🐆!
But not only me… most Phone Travel Wiz readers think the same, which is why I focus on it so much.
There is a limitation to be mentioned.
I did not start using the Ubigi eSIM at the same time as I used the Hong Kong SIM cards or other Hong Kong travel eSIMs.
In fact, I started about a week later, meaning I miss 23 results of the 56 in total (or 14 compared to 3 Hong Kong because it took ages to activate my line).
So it would be unfair for me to call the Ubigi eSIM slow, right?
Normally… no… but I still do – here is why.
I used the SIM cards of both networks extensively during my trip, so I could compare the Ubigi results to them (and determine which network it used the most).
SmarTone Hong Kong allows prepaid customers to use 5G NR already, so all my results were on that network (aka super fast).
3 Hong Kong did not, and I already mentioned it was trash (on its 4G/LTE network).
If I compare the results I got with Ubigi to 3 Hong Kong and SmarTone Hong Kong, I can assume I was on the 3 Hong Kong network most of/all the time… because the speeds were slow on both (whereas it would have been significantly faster on the SmarTone Hong Kong network).
In my 3 Hong Kong review, I already concluded that it has the worst network in the country.
So it would make sense Ubigi would have a poor performance if it (mostly) uses the worst network the country has to offer.
So even if I had all the 47 speed results as I did with 3 Hong Kong, it would not change the average by much because 3 Hong Kong was slow/terrible at most of the locations already.
In fact, it would probably lower Ubigi's average by a little 😩.
Does that mean the Ubigi eSIM was horrible all the time? Not at all.
At Admiralty Station, I managed to get a download speed of 112.77 Mbps – its fastest result anywhere.
Sure, all the Hong Kong SIM cards performed better, with China Mobile Hong Kong having a download speed of 210.21 Mbps on 5G NR.
Or at Kennedy Town Station, where the Ubigi eSIM managed to get a download speed of 80.61 Mbps.
It was even slightly faster than 3 Hong Kong (77.14 Mbps).
And when we look at upload speeds, the Ubigi eSIM got its fastest upload speed at the University Library of the Chinese University of Hong Kong in Ma Lui Shui (49.07 Mbps).
Only the Airalo Asialink eSIM was faster (60.52 Mbps) if we ignored the Hong Kong SIM cards.
So it is not always doom and gloom with the Ubigi eSIM in Hong Kong.
… but it is like that most of the time (compared to its many competitors).
This is why I try out so many eSIMs in each country I visit – else I would have nothing to compare Ubigi's results to.
I might have said that it would have been good enough 🤯.
But do not think the Ubigi eSIM will always perform this badly in the 12 eligible countries.
I used the Best Asia plan in Singapore too, where it performed exceptionally well.
While it was a light comparison (Simba (formerly TPG Telecom), Nomad APAC eSIM, Simify Singapore eSIM & 3 UK travel SIM card by Holidaysimcard and not to the Big Three Singaporean mobile operators, Airalo & Holafly), the Ubigi eSIM has the second-fastest average download speed (three-digit average) 🤯.
But you would have to read my Ubigi Singapore review instead to find out about those results 😏.
My Overall Experience with the Ubigi Best Asia Plan in Hong Kong – Is It Any Good?
I would not recommend the Ubigi eSIM with the Best Asia plan for Hong Kong, and it is the only Hong Kong travel eSIM I explicitly do not recommend.
Installing an Ubigi eSIM is a clumsy process.
Initially, you need to have cellular data enabled (on the Ubigi network).
After signing up, you are supposed to receive a code to confirm your details.
But you cannot submit your request for the code without enabling WiFi again (which the app does not tell you).
And if you are unlucky, the session times out, and you have to redo the registration process again.
Whereas other travel eSIMs have an easy and straightforward registration process.
But once the eSIM is installed, you no longer have to worry about this.
And getting a Ubigi plan, like the Best Asia plan, is straightforward.
But the issue is that it does not have Hong Kong-specific plans, meaning you will pay a slight premium to use your plan in
12 14 or 24 23 countries instead of just one.
Whereas Ubigi has only two options, 3 GB for 24 USD and 10 GB for 49 USD, Airalo would charge you 13 USD and 37 USD for the same allowances, respectively.
The 3 GB Nomad APAC (15 Countries Plan) eSIM costs 13 USD, while the 10 GB costs 29 USD.
Quite a price difference, let alone the country-specific eSIMs from Airalo and Nomad – they are way cheaper (8.50 USD/3 GB & 19 USD/10 GB for Airalo's Hkmobile eSIMs and 8 USD/3 GB & 19 USD/10 GB for Nomad's Hong Kong eSIMs).
And I can tell you that you will not have any reception issues with the Ubigi eSIM – even on the MTR.
However, you will probably be on the 3 Hong Kong network most of the time, which has the worst (4G/LTE) network in Hong Kong.
Your speeds will often be fast enough for general data browsing and video streaming; you should not expect much.
Taking all 33 speed tests into account, I had an average overall download speed of 25.43 Mbps and a median download speed of 20.22 Mbps with the Ubigi Best Asia plan.
When looking at upload speeds, I had an average upload speed of 9.91 Mbps and a median upload speed of 6.50 Mbps with the Ubigi Best Asia plan.
The Ubigi eSIM was slower than any other travel eSIM I tested in Hong Kong, except for the Nomad ones.
But the Nomad ones seem to be actively throttled, whereas the 3 Hong Kong 4G/LTE network, which it calls 4.5G to make it seem superior, is just slow.
Because of all these shortcomings, primarily using the worst network in Hong Kong, having no Hong Kong-specific plans, forcing you to buy a regional plan (Asia & Best Asia) & being more expensive than its competitors, I do not recommend the Ubigi Best Asia plan for Hong Kong.
But… I also used this plan in Singapore, and it performed significantly better than in Hong Kong.
So depending on the network the Ubigi eSIM uses (luckily, often one of the best in the country), the Best Asia plan can be worth it.
Just not in Hong Kong, unfortunately. 😔
Other Hong Kong eSIM Reviews (Airalo, Holafly, Nomad & Simify & Ubigi)
As mentioned earlier, I also tried out eSIMs from Airalo (Hkmobile, Asialink & Discover Global), Holafly, Nomad (Hong Kong and APAC) & Simify + 3 (UK) travel SIM card by Holidaysimcard.
You should read those reviews too.
>>> Airalo Hkmobile eSIM Review | Airalo Asialink eSIM in Hong Kong Review | Airalo Discover Global eSIM in Hong Kong Review | Holafly Hong Kong eSIM Review | Nomad Hong Kong eSIM Review | Nomad APAC eSIM in Hong Kong Review | Simify Hong Kong eSIM Review | 3 (UK) Travel SIM Card by Holidaysimcard in Hong Kong Review (also used in Australia and Singapore) <<<
- Check out my eSIM reviews page if you want to read all the other eSIM reviews I have written, including other eSIM providers in Asia.
I also tried out various local Hong Kong cards: China Mobile Hong Kong, CSL Mobile, 3 Hong Kong & SmarTone Hong Kong.
If your phone does not support eSIM (but felt like reading this Airalo review in full anyway – awesome) or want to have the best network experience possible, you want to go directly with the local mobile operators instead of roaming on their networks (as you do with travel eSIMs).
So I encourage you to read the Hong Kong SIM card reviews too.
Check out my reviews page if you want to read all the other reviews I have written, including other Asian SIM cards.
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